Difference Between Uvula and Epiglottis

Main Difference

The main difference between uvula and epiglottis is that uvula is a piece of flesh that hangs at the back of throat whereas epiglottis is a leaf-shaped cartilaginous flap that is present on the border of the glottis.

Uvula vs. Epiglottis

The uvula is a wedge-shaped bag-like structure made of connective tissues whereas epiglottis is a leaf-shaped cartilaginous structure made of fibers of cartilage. The uvula is located from the end of vellum at the base of the tongue and can be seen hanging in the last part of the mouth in a mirror whereas epiglottis is situated in the throat behind the tongue, at the entrance of the larynx and projects sideways at the rear of the hyoid bone and tongue. The main function of the uvula is to help produce the sound, but sometimes it also aids in sending signals to the brain when food touch against it whereas epiglottis prevents the food and liquid entering in the trachea during swallowing after getting signals from the brain which reach there signaling through uvula. Uvula can be infected with many diseases both viral and bacterial whereas epiglottis can be affected with inflammation and results in difficulty in breathing.

Comparison Chart

UvulaEpiglottis
The uvula is a soft tissue like structure that consists of muscles and connective tissues.Epiglottis is an elastic cartilaginous structure covered with the mucous membrane attached with the entrance of the larynx.
Location
It is Located at the back of the soft palateLocated in the cranial portion of the laryngeal prosthesis.
Nature of Structure
Muscular structureCartilaginous Structure
Shape
Wedge-shapedLeaf-shaped
Contain
Serous glandsTaste buds
Functions
Covers the nasopharynx, emetic effect, snoring and sleep apnea, nasal regurgitation.Covers the trachea

What is Uvula?

The uvula is a soft tissue present in the mouth at the end of the soft palate. The specific function of the uvula is still under discussion, but certain studies have shown that it plays a role in excreting saliva and help in closing the epiglottis. It functions as a kind of trigger like action to prevent food from entering the trachea. When food brushes against the uvula, a neural signal is sent to the brain which triggers the closing of the epiglottis. It has also studied that it also prevents the entry of food in nasal cavities and serving as a drain for mucus. Uvula seals off the passageway between the nose and throat which is known as the nasopharynx and helps with keeping food and liquid in the right place. It also helps to drain any mucus from nasal cavities towards the base of the tongue and down the throat. Uvula also induces gag reflex which leads to coughing, sleep apnea, and snoring.

This body part also aids in producing a range of speech-related sound by articulation. These specific sounds are produced when a person speaks and is imperative for proper speech production. Together with the throat, soft palate, and air from the lungs, the uvula can create a wide range of voices. So it serves as an accessory to speech production. Uvula also provides sufficient lubrication in the form of saliva. Moreover, it has also some immunological importance.

What is Epiglottis?

Epiglottis is a leaf-shaped cartilaginous flap that hangs down the windpipe and forms the border of the glottis opening. Cartilage is a tough elastic tissue which is made of small bundles of fibers that are very much elastic. The primary function of the elastic tissues is to make the structure both flexible and sturdy. Cartilage tissue present in the epiglottis is coated with the mucous membrane to harden it partially and allow it to form a hindrance before the trachea. When actions are required, it is flexible enough to perform its functions. During breathing, epiglottis lies entirely within the larynx while during swallowing.

In normal conditions, epiglottis lies upward allowing free passage of air into the trachea and larynx. During eating, it flips off the opening of the trachea, and after swallowing of food, it opens the trachea again to allow for normal breathing. Epiglottis is an essential part of the body located behind the hyoid bone in the neck. Neck muscles lift the hyoid bone that causes the epiglottis to fold down and close the glottis. Directly, it also helps in digestion. Apart from helping the delivery of food to the digestive system, the epiglottis also helps in channeling the eaten particles directly towards the stomach. Epiglottis also play a role in speech production by aiding the articulation of vowel and consonant sound words. During vowel production, the entrance between the epiglottis and pharynx becomes wider while in the case of consonant words production, it becomes smaller.

Key Differences

  1. The uvula is leaf-shaped connective tissue contains muscle whereas epiglottis is a wedge-shaped cartilaginous flap.
  2. The uvula is a soft tissue structure whereas epiglottis is tough cartilaginous structure.
  3. The uvula is located at the base of the tongue whereas the cranial portion of the laryngeal prosthesis.
  4. Uvula contains serous glands whereas epiglottis contains taste buds.
  5. The function of the uvula is the production of sound whereas the role of the epiglottis is to cover the trachea during swallowing.

Conclusion

Both are parts of the body, but from the above discussion, it has concluded that the main difference between both structures is the position and function of the structure.

Janet White

Janet White is a writer and blogger for Difference Wiki since 2015. She has a master's degree in science and medical journalism from Boston University. Apart from work, she enjoys exercising, reading, and spending time with her friends and family. Connect with her on Twitter @Janet__White

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